Tuesday, November 4, dawned warm and grey-ish here in New Jersey, but now (1 pm) we have a little quiet sun filtering down. Last night my daughter Carson had a sleepover here with her friend Emma (both girls are 9) and the whispering and giggling went on until after midnight. My wife and I rose groggily at 6 AM--of course, the girls were already awake. No school today, so the plan was for my wife to vote, then head into NYC to work while I took the girls with me to vote. Emma's mother and father are German and Irish citizens, respectively, so Emma hasn't been with them to American polling places and wanted to see how voting works for a school report.
My wife came back after over an hour (the elementary school we vote in is just around the corner), late for work and harried. Took a long time because the one voting machine allotted to our district was down--first time this has happened in ten years--and so they had to do paper ballots. Then they ran out of paper ballots and confusion ensued until it was determined voters could use another districts paper ballots (although not another district's voting machines).
I drove my wife to the train station and she asked me why Tuesday is the appointed election day. Started in 1845, I said. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was picked because it was a period when crops were in, but the really bad winter weather hadn't started. And voting on Tuesday generally meant you wouldn't have to travel on the Sabbath to get to your polling place.
Took the girls out to breakfast at our local diner. Quite crowded and much buzzing excitement. CNN in the background, showing Obama voting, along with his daughters. His machine (of the optical scanner variety) wasn't broken, but it took him quite a long time to fill in his ballot. Emma, who is running for Student Council vice-president at her and Carson's elementary school, asked me if Obama could vote for himself. I said not only could, but certainly did, at which point she looked quite thoughtful.
Then it was off to the polls, where, judging from what I had been hearing, I expected long lines. But actually not bad. The district 19 voting machine was not yet working--they were expecting a technician momentarily--so we had to fill out paper ballots. This was a bit disappointing to me -- I like the rush of pushing buttons behind curtains--but Emma and Carson helped me darken the appropriate circles with pencil, and off we went. Total time: 20 minutes.
Tonight...two different election parties and then we all collapse. More later.